ARTICLE | 17 AUGUST, 2014 | BY NADER BELKACEM
Customer appetite for excellent customer services seems to be growing faster than ever with the introduction of speedy, automated customer services, whether it be in person, via the web, or mobile phone.
Governments across the world have recognized the need to keep up with the trends and improve their customer services. Abu Dhabi and the UAE in particular place great emphasis on the need for Excellence in Government Performance, and Customer Service Excellence is a major component of this.
Well, here is a simple recipe for great government services:
Key to establishing great government services is the need to operate like an efficient private sector organization. Central to any large, private company is the Customer Relationship Management System (CRM). Such a database will include all relevant and important information about the customer. In the case of the government, this database should include as much information as possible about the citizen or resident in order to be able to provide them with the services that they need or require.
Knowing your customers is the first step to delivering excellent customer service. Once you have established this understanding, only then can you start to build a long lasting and mutually beneficial relationship
Most government entities have started to offer their services via electronic platforms long ago. The Abu Dhabi e-government initiative has made great progress over the years in its efforts to establish a central location for electronic government services but there remains a lot of room for improvement by way of integration and collaboration with all government entities to deliver seamless customer services.
Self-service channels including mobile and electronic service platforms are great for reducing costs and improving efficiency and effectiveness. Building these platforms takes time and effort but the pay-off is great once they are live and government entities have room and time to focus on more strategic objectives.
People are becoming increasingly used to doing business and making transactions via their mobile phones. Smart Phone Apps are a great way to interact and connect with customers, enabling them to make transactions and apply/receive/modify their services via their mobile phones.
Social media has also become a popular new channel for governments across the world. Government entities use social media for marketing and PR campaigns, seeking public opinion and satisfaction, and for gauging public sentiment and attitudes. In the UAE the use of social media has increased 5 fold over the last 4 years. Get ahead and start your social media campaign today!
Government Employees, especially those on the front line, i.e Customer Service Representatives are the face of government services. Make sure you invest the time and the effort to ensure that these employees are well trained on customer service standards, the services that your government entity is delivering, and all other aspects of customer relationship management.
Give your customer service representatives the authority to make the customer happy. By this, it is meant that customer service representatives should be able to solve customer issues and requests on their own. Customers HATE getting mad and escalating issues. If this can be avoided and resolved right away by giving the customer options, alternatives, and clear instructions on how to resolve their issues, they will be happy.
Feedback is the key to improvement. The more opportunities government entities create to receive feedback from customers, the more data and information they will have to make informed decisions on service improvements and strategic changes.
Customer Feedback can be solicited at any point of customer interaction including in person feedback at a service desk, online, or via social media. People love to comment on their satisfaction with a service, especially if they believe something will be done to improve!!!
Abu Dhabi is no different than anywhere else in the world. Government entities operate in silos. To create the perfect government services platform, these silos or walls need to be broken down. Cooperation, collaboration, and integration are the key ingredients to a successful e-government platform. Only once all government entities start working together will the customers be able to go to a “one stop shop” for all government services!
Seek customer feedback. Engage customers. Do your best to understand what the customer needs. These are some of the basic principles of customer service. Governments should view their customers as private company do and strive to create lifetime customer value. This concept is one that is key in keeping customers happy and ensuring that they come back with a smile time and time again.
Performance management play a pivotal role in the delivery great government services. Establish Key Performance Indicators and set realistic but challenging targets. Metrics such as customer satisfaction, resolution time, wait time, number of complaints and errors should be amongst these. Measure these performance metrics as much as possible. Analyze trends and conduct root cause assessments for any metrics that fall below expectations.
Last but not least, ensure that you are constantly increasing your target performance levels and challenging performance results.